3/11/09

Lunch at Zaytinya

Yesterday I met my friend Emily at Zaytinya for lunch. If you recall, over the summer I had dinner at this restaurant with Anna, Jenn and Mas. We loved the food and service, and I was looking forward to lunching at Zaytinya.

At noon, the restaurant was still pretty empty, and I was surprised when we were told we could not sit at the table of our choice because it was reserved. People reserve certain tables? I asked to have a table with as much natural light as possible because I was planning on taking pictures of the food (of course!).

The restaurant is doing a new economic stimulus promotion where for $20.09 you choose 3 mezzes and one dessert from a pre-selected list of options. Emily and I decided it was an excellent idea (otherwise I'm often overwhelmed by quite an extensive menu).

Our waitress, Christine, took our orders, brought out a bowl of olive oil (notice the Z made with vinegar! It just dawned on me that Z stands for Zaytinya), and then we received a basket of fresh and hot pita bread. We were off to a good start!

For the first round I ordered crispy fried eggplant, and Emily ordered fattoush salad. I know that usually anything fried has to be good, but the eggplant was amazing! I could have happily eaten another few slices: the eggplant was tender on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside without being too oily. And I was glad (somewhat) I wasn't planning on kissing anyone later because the garlicky sauce was just that: garlicky (in the most perfect way possible).

Emily's fattoush was perfect.


For the second round I ordered shrimp, and Emily ordered chicken with orzo. While Emily liked her dish, I thought it was overly salty. But I did not mind, because I really liked the shrimp! Dill, mustard and lemon juice went so well with the sweetness of the shrimp. And we received a second basket of pita just in time for me to dip it into the sauce.

For the third round Emily ordered Arayes (sort of a panini with ground lamb), and I ordered salmon. Emily's food came, and it was really good: flavorful, crispy and delicious. I was still waiting on my salmon. Then, instead of salmon we received a chicken dish. We called our waitress and told her we received a wrong dish. She apologized, asked if we'd like to still keep the dish (of course!) and said salmon will be on its way shortly.

I really liked the chicken dish: especially a few tomatoes that came along with it. We finished the chicken, and the salmon was still not there. I was beginning to get a bit of deja vu of my lunch with Stacey at Oya. Except that Zaytinya took such better care of fixing their timing mistake.

Christine came over one more time and apologized that the salmon was taking such a long time. She asked if we were in a hurry, and I joked that I worked for the government, and Emily was on vacation, so we were okay. Christine then asked why I was taking photographs of the food, and I told her that I have a food blog.

Poor girl! She got really nervous, and I assured her several times she had nothing to worry about. The food was great, the service was great, and I wasn't planning on writing anything bad about the restaurant.

The salmon finally came. It was pretty good. I guess by that time I was just ready for the dessert.

Oh, and the dessert was amazing! Emily had Turkish Delight, while I had Greek Cherries and Yogurt. LOVED the presentation, and the taste was even better: a perfect way to finish our meal. And we also received coffee (for Emily) and cappuccino (for me) on the house! Jose Andres really knows how to run the place!

On top of it all, we also received 25% discount on our meal: this was way more than anyone could hope for. We tipped Christine on the full amount and left quite happy with the entire experience! I will definitely go back again.

And here are a few of my favorite photos:

10 comments:

helensjourney said...

Wow the food all looks wonderful.

lesley said...

Looks delicious and fun ... I want to go!

cia007girl said...

i'm SO jealous! :O

5 Star Foodie said...

I was just reading about this restaurant on another blog literally an hour ago! The cherries and yogurt dessert sounds wonderful and everything else too. Now I definitely have to put this on my list :)

avesta said...

Looks like a great lunch...and small portions with many selections is just how I like to eat! YUM!

Sara said...

I didn't know he had a mediterranean restaurant! I love mediterranean food, I could eat it every day.

veggie belly said...

wow! everything looks so great! the desserts especially! a lot of restaurants have been doing 'recession deals'. 25% off sounds great! i love that you look pictures of the menu.

Emily said...

Love the photo collages! This was a great meal. I think my fave item was your cherry dessert. I gotta have lunch with you more often ;-)

Pam said...

Everything looks so delicious - I wish this restaurant was in my town.

Junglefrog said...

That sounds like a great restaurant for sure! Just a question; do people look at you funny when you photograph all the food you are having before eating it? I do that a lot (especially when having lunch since I can use the natural light then) and sometimes you can hear people whispering about that silly person taking photos of everything...:) I don't mind; I was just wondering how that is in the US! It seems everyone is getting so paranoid about photography sometimes!